Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Dame Cicely Saunders - founder of the modern hospice movement

  • Comment

Dame Cicely Saunders devoted her life to making sure people could die with dignity and free from pain. Convinced the last days of a person’s life could be made happy, she said: ‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.’

She came from a wealthy but unhappy home and, against her will, was educated at Roedean, the exclusive girls’ school. The shy and gawky child left school with, as she put it, a ‘compassion for the underdog’. She went to Oxford, but left to become a nurse.

When a back injury forced her out of the profession, she retrained as a medical social worker and later as a doctor, largely to study pain relief. In 1948 she fell in love with a patient, David Tesma, who was dying of cancer. He left her £500 to start a hospice - a home or hospital to relieve the physical and emotional suffering of the dying.

Almost 20 years later she opened St Christopher’s Hospice in south-east London, where she died in 2005.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.